6.8/10
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19 user 10 critic

The Glass Wall (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 July 1953 (Finland)
Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to ... See full summary »

Director:

Maxwell Shane

Writers:

Ivan Tors (screenplay), Maxwell Shane (screenplay)
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Peter Kaban
Gloria Grahame ... Maggie Summers
Ann Robinson ... Nancy
Douglas Spencer ... Inspector Bailey
Robin Raymond ... Tanya aka Bella Zakoyla
Jerry Paris ... Tom
Elizabeth Slifer Elizabeth Slifer ... Mrs. Hinckley - Landlady
Richard Reeves ... Eddie Hinckley
Joe Turkel ... Freddie Zakoyla (as Joseph Turkel)
Else Bäck Else Bäck ... Mrs. Zakoyla (as Else Neft)
Michael Fox ... Inspector Toomey / Narrator
Nesdon Booth Nesdon Booth ... Monroe - Taxi Driver (as Ned Booth)
Kathleen Freeman ... Zelda - Fat Woman
Juney Ellis Juney Ellis ... Girl friend
Jack Teagarden ... Musician
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Storyline

Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie, a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Shorty Rogers and his band and trombonist Jack Teagarden are playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla, takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE 10-HOUR MANHUNT...that tore New York apart!

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1953 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Die gläserne Mauer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Along with Jack Teagarden (trombone) in the nightclub sequence, in the band Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone) on the far left and Shelly Manne (drums) can be seen. Shorty Rogers (trumpet) is leading the band. He and Bob Keene (clarinet) supply off camera solos for the actors. See more »

Goofs

As in so many other movies, a newspaper with an article relevant to the plot comes out impossibly soon after the event. Also, the paper is the New York Daily News, which is a morning paper. The story states that Gassman's character arrived that day. The deadline for a morning paper would be before midnight the day before, so the stories are always about what happened on the previous day. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Zakoyla: Don't forget, your dead father was a lousy foreigner!
See more »

Connections

References Red Mountain (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Terrific most of the time, and terrible in little spurts. It has the UN, jazz, and Grahame!
3 March 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Glass Wall (1953)

A great idea, and two great leads--Gloria Grahame as a down and out single girl and Vittoria Gassman as a Eastern European illegal immigrant. And one mediocre directing job--by Maxwell Shane. I had just seen another Shane film that was pretty good, with some great performances ("The Naked Street" with a terrific Anthony Quinn) so I was looking forward to this. It has a great theme (facing the immigration system) and it turns our attention to the new world presence for justice, the United Nations. It also features some real musicians--Jack Teagarden and Shorty Rogers--and one straight small combo big band jazz number. (I put it that way because by 1953 the real scene in New York was bebop, this this style predates it.)

So, the best parts of this movie are terrific, mainly the middle section where the two leads help each other and start to fall in love, with hints of an urban "They Live by Night" in mood. But there are parts where you can't help but laugh, because they are either so improbable or the editing and acting is ridiculously off key. Director Shane also co-wrote this adventure, and here there are hiccups, too, even down to the central premise of a man facing deportation even though he has nowhere to go and has been on the run for a decade. For one, it's hard to believe the immigration laws were so blindly inflexible, but let's say they were. They have the reputation. But certainly New York City wouldn't get turned upside down for one man, not considered dangerous, who has slipped from custody. There are APBs and front page photos and a general panic on the order of Son of Sam.

But we understand the dilemma anyway. It's one man against the system, and that's always an easy one for choosing sides. Grahame plays a woman on the outs with great sympathy and conviction, and she's just the kind of hardened, soft-hearted girl you'd want to fall in with if you were on the lam. And the ending, as badly directed and edited as it is (you'll see), is pure Hitchcock for its setting and high drama. We are taken inside the new United Nations building called the Secretariat in Manhattan (the International Style Le Corbusier skyscraper was finished in 1952), in what must be the first Hollywood movie to do so (and perhaps the last in this manner until "The Interpreter" in 2005, the site being secret and guarded enough that Hitchcock himself in 1958 had to use a model instead of the real location).

This is one case where someone could re-edit it and have something of a minor gem, with high points making it worth the effort. As it is, the speed bumps are nearly fatal.


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